Labor’s attack on industrial relations, JobKeeper

Prime Minister Scott Morrison turned the blowtorch on Labor during the first Question Time of the year, accusing the party of becoming a “fight club”.

Labor used the parliamentary session to attack the government for not chasing companies that accepted JobKeeper money while giving bonuses to executives.

But Mr Morrison hit back, saying Labor wanted to support and oppose the government support measures at the same time.

Mr Morrison accused the opposition of becoming a “fight club, not an opposition” because it could not agree on a position.

Labor also ramped up its attack over an industrial relations law overhaul, warning the proposal would cut workers’ wages.

The opposition has resolved not to support proposed changes to the Fair Work Act, which are before a Senate committee due to report back in March.

“Why are the prime minister’s industrial changes being cited by retailers as a reason for workers on $57,000 losing every single penalty rate, overtime rate and shift allowance?” Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles asked the government.

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter responded saying “it is just not correct”.

But the response did not stop Labor from pushing the issue prompting MPs to yell out “shame”.

“Can the Prime Minister confirm that the pay cuts being proposed in writing by the retailers, and facilitated by his industrial relations changes, will see store managers who work all night cop a pay cut of more than $10,000 a year?” opposition industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke said.

“There is nothing in this bill that does or facilitates what the opposition spokesperson on industrial relations contends,” Mr Porter said.

“What is in the bill is a range of reasonable, sensible, debated changes that will increase job growth in Australia.”

If passed, the new law would allow bosses not to pay part-timers penalty rates for extra hours, if the worker agrees. The law would only cover part-timers on 12 particular awards.

Despite months of consultation with unions and industry groups, Australia’s peak union slammed the reforms saying they would take rights off casual workers.

Labor also tried to ask a question related to controversial MP Craig Kelly that was disallowed by Speaker Tony Smith.

After Question Time, Labor leader Anthony Albanese thanked MPs from across the divide for their support and well wishes following his shocking car crash in January.

The parliament also paid tribute to Major General Michael Jeffrey who died in December last year.

The senior army officer served as Australia’s 24th Governor-General between 2003 and 2008.

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